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Our volunteer activities

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Friends Tackling the Garden at Topsham Lock Cottage 


Volunteers have recently begun work at Topsham Lock Cottage. The focus has been tackling the garden where a large overgrown area is being cleared. It is intended to add additional seating in the garden plus some information boards. Internally plans are for exhibition and information areas, plus a cafe may be added later. 


Bob Lucas, who is co-ordinating the project with Andrea Gallagher, said ‘We have been thinning the hedges and taking out some bramble roots from the "lawn". We also started clearing the front garden and mending the furniture'. Help welcomed!

If you would like to know about future work parties, please contact John Monks at or phone: 01392 493559. If you would like to help at Topsham Lock Cottage, please contact Bob Lucas at

Friends Festive Litter Pick

Over 40 cheerful Friends turned out on 30 December 2019 for a festive clear-up of the canal and its banks. Walkers and members of the canoe club met up at the Double Locks on a misty but dry morning and cleared the canal and it banks back to the Basin. We collected an impressive haul on the way and received many thanks by passers by for our efforts. It was both fun and satisfying.


Band of Canal Friends!

The popular Devon-based City Steam Jazz Band visited the Friends of Exeter Ship Canal's stall on Sunday 8 July during the band's gig at the Quayside's Summer Jazz on the Quay.  

Members at the stall gave the public information about the Friends’ volunteering activities and handed out the new Waterway Guide that contains information about the Canal for boaters, walkers and cyclists as well as a self-guided trail along the five and a half miles of waterway to the Exe estuary.

Those enjoying the music were reminded that if it wasn't for the Ship Canal there might have been no Jazz on the Quay because the Custom House, historic warehouses and Quayside would not have existed — since no ships could reach the city by river after the Exe was blocked by weirs! 

Spring towpath clearing event —

the magnificent three!

Only three volunteers from the Friends took part in the work party on the canal towpath on Saturday 14 April, but they managed to tidy and clear extensive lengths of the towpaths and sections of the canal banks of brambles and other obstructions. 

Here are two of the stalwarts at work — the third member of the party took the photograph!
















The Friends' volunteer work parties repaint the footbridge at Exeter Canal Basin,

July and August 2017

On 29 July a part of volunteers from the Friends sanded down and made the pedestrian and cycle bridge at the entrance to the Canal Basin ready for a much needed coat of fresh paint, but bad weather stopped progress before repainting could start.


The job was completed in two sessions on 9 and 16 August. One side of the bridge was painted at a time to allow walkers and cyclists to continue to cross. The photographs show, left, the team hard at work with sandpaper before bad weather stopped progress, and right, Mike Grayshan, Volunteer co-ordinator, brush in hand.

If you would like to know about future work parties, please contact John Monks at or phone: 01392 493559. If you would like to help at Topsham Lock Cottage, please contact Bob Lucas at




Towpath clearing event,  Saturday 21st January 2017

Towpath clearing event, Saturday 8th April 2017

The Friends of Exeter Ship Canal organised a volunteer work party on the canal towpath on Saturday 8th April 2017. The work included tidying and clearing the towpath and canal bank of brambles and other obstructions.


A dozen volunteers, including a party from Exeter Sea Cadets, braved the cold and gathered for the Friends' first work party on the banks of the canal. We cut back willow saplings and brambles from the right-hand canal bank, going down from Salmon Pool swing bridge for about 150 metres.

Many saplings were sprouting that if allowed to grow any bigger would threaten the banks with erosion. Overgrown brambles are unpleasant for walkers and water users alike. Mike Grayshan, Friends of Exeter Ship Canal volunteer co-ordinator, said afterwards, "It was a great success. The banks are clearer now and the towpath more pleasant. There is a lot more to be done and during the coming year we will be taking on more projects in consultation with the city council’s waterways team."

Thanks to every volunteer who took part. We look forward to welcoming many more in the future.


Equipment and tools, including high visibility jackets with "Friends of Exeter Ship Canal" on front and back, were provided. Afterwards the volunteers were invited to lunch at The Prospect on Exeter Quay to celebrate the success of the Friends' first work party.



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